Women’s League Cup: Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall criticises competition

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Sign telling people to keep off pitch at Princes Park
Arsenal’s League Cup quarter-final match away at London City Lionesses will take place one week after it was originally scheduled

The way League Cup is run “needs looking at” after Arsenal’s tie against London City Lionesses was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch, says Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall.

The quarter-final at London City’s Princes Park will take place on Wednesday, 14 February instead.

But the Swede questioned why no plans are in place to prevent postponements.

“Other countries look at it and think ‘that’s not how you should run a tournament’,” he said.

“In Sweden, we have more severe weather than in the UK, games very rarely get cancelled and if they do we play them the day after or you move it to the reserve pitch.

“I don’t get this, why we can’t play this game when it’s supposed to be played? It needs some looking at.”

The match was postponed following a pitch inspection on Wednesday afternoon and Eidevall said his side had a training session instead to ensure they got “something out of the day”.

“Maybe it’s more of a women’s football problem than a Continental Cup problem but if you don’t have a pitch that you can play on, if you can’t play on your pitch, what is the plan?” he said.

“Can we move the game somewhere else? Do you have a reserve pitch? In this case, no-one knows what happens when you can’t play on the pitch. Now we have to move the game and we will have different players and have less time in the season.”

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The Concacaf W Gold Cup – a competition contested by North American, Central American and Caribbean nations – begins on 17 February and several of Eidevall’s players will have already travelled to be with their respective national teams by the time of the rescheduled match.

Last season, Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said solutions need to be found to prevent matches being called off because of issues with pitches. In 2019, she criticised the League Cup, saying it should be scrapped and replaced with more league matches.

Eidevall also said it is “a joke” that suspensions from red cards picked up in the Women’s Super League are served in the League Cup.

“How you can get a red card in the league and then be suspended in the Continental Cup and come back and play the next league game – I don’t see how you can mix the two competitions. Especially when not every team in the league is even part of the competition in the group stage,” he said.

He also criticised the competition for not having clear guidelines and rulings on the “consequences” of certain incidents, using Aston Villa’s fielding of an ineligible player as an example.

Villa won their final Group A match 7-0 over Sunderland, but cup-tied defender Noelle Maritz played in the win and the Football Association conducted an investigation into the incident.

“The Continental Cup is surrounded with ‘if this happens, let’s see what the consequence is going to be’,” he said.

Carla Ward’s side were deducted three points but ultimately stayed in the competition, progressing as one of the best group-stage runners-up.

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“When you play with an ineligible player in Sweden, there is a clear outcome and there shouldn’t have to be a committee or a tribunal or having a meeting and doing that on a case-by-case basis,” Eidevall said.

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